Luis Diaz's father to be handed over to UN officials by kidnappers

The 'operation to free' Luis Diaz's father has begun, according to reports in Colombia.

Luis Manuel Diaz was kidnapped by armed men on motorbikes in his hometown of Barrancas on 28 October.

While the Liverpool winger's mother, Cilenis Marulanda – who was also abducted – was soon freed, the search and rescue mission for Diaz's father is now approaching two weeks.

Colombian rebel group Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) were identified as responsible for the kidnapping, and though the organisation initially promised to release Diaz Snr promptly, a statement last weekend claimed they would only do so once they had received 'security guarantees'.

Diaz sat out two Liverpool games amid the ongoing situation, making his return in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Luton Town.

After scoring a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser, the 26-year-old celebrated by revealing a shirt that read "Freedom for dad".

Recent reports stated that the Colombian military had withdrawn troops in order to pave the way for Diaz's father's release in line with ELN's demands and, on Wednesday, Colombian outlet Caracol cited reports from Blu Radio that the 'operation to free' Diaz Snr is now underway, with humanitarian and church organisations involved.

Meanwhile, Caracol Radio claim that the ELN are working with United Nations officials for the handover, "in compliance with last-minute protocols acquired with the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace."

After the game at Luton, Diaz made a first public statement since the kidnapping of his father, posting on X: "Here's not the player speaking. Today's Lucho Diaz, the son of Luis Manuel Diaz. Mane, my dad, hard working man, family pillar…he's now kidnapped.

"I ask ELN to release my father as soon as possible. I also ask the international associations to work on that in order to guarantee his freedom.

"Every second, every minute we're more worried. We've no words to describe our family's terrible feelings, and it will be the same as long as he's not back at home.

"I beg you to release my father right now, respecting his integrity.

"I want to thank to all Colombians and also the international community for your support."

Luis Diaz, ProShots

Luis Diaz, ProShots

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool's Europa League clash with Toulouse on Thursday, Jurgen Klopp said of Diaz's situation: "No real news, always a positive sign somehow, but not real news.

"And yes, he decided last week because he cannot go to Colombia and that will not be the case at the moment, so he is here and when he is here when he is at training it is a safe place, when he is around the matches it is a safe place with the team, everything is OK.

"He wants to be with us, he travelled, he is here, he is available."

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